The Internet In Cuba – The Definitive Guide

The country of Cuba has had a reputation over the years for being quite behind when it comes to accessing the internet.

As a result, many people visiting there for their holidays might be doubtful about whether they can even get online, which some people find essential.

The Internet In Cuba - The Definitive Guide

However, Cuba definitely has the internet and access to it within the country has undoubtedly got easier and easier in recent years. With that being said, there are a lot of factors that come into connecting.

That’s why we’ve created a definitive guide to all the different information that you will need to know when trying to connect to the internet when visiting Cuba, as well as some of the problems you might face. By the end of our article, you’ll be able to get online in no time!

The Internet In Cuba

Even just a decade ago, getting onto the internet was an extremely difficult thing to do. For one, you had to find a location that would even let you, which was half the battle.

When you finally did find an outlet to connect to, it was frequently very expensive, costing you a small fortune just to get online – something you might take for granted in other places in the world.

On top of that, the internet was hardly good quality, with slow load times and limits. For the price and the difficulty, the disappointing final result was often not worth it.

In these early days, the point of the internet in Cuba was to only apply to a few kinds of people. One of these was for businesses and corporations, allowing them to do more global business and run their operations better. 

The other category of people were tourists. If a country didn’t have the internet when so many others did, tourists might not look too well on it and be hesitant to come back – as well as hesitant to spend money when there and help the economy.

For the everyday citizens, the internet was something only few could get.

However, all of these issues have arguably gotten much better over the past few years, and Cuba is now a place where connecting to the internet doesn’t seem like as much of a rarity.

Though places to access it are still not entirely universal, there are certainly many more spots where you can get online, and they’ll more than likely be wherever you are.

The cost is still a little high, however, but given that access has improved the cost is at least partially worth it now. 

With that being said, what you’re paying for is still restricted. If you want to stream videos, you might have difficulty loading them, because Cuban internet is still only best for small files.

On top of that, there is notable internet censorship in Cuba, limiting what pages you can view and what you can do – which we’ll cover later. 

Where Do You Find Wi-Fi In Cuba?

Connecting to wi-fi is going to be your best bet for getting online in Cuba, but you need to know the best spots for doing so.

You will most commonly find wi-fi in places with lots of people, spots such as parks and bars where people gather in groups and will want to get online. Here, you’ll often see people regularly using their phones. 

However, these public hotspots are not the only locations across Cuba, as you will also probably be able to access the internet in the hotels that you’re staying in – which is very convenient for tourists.

If you’re not staying at a hotel, though, and have gone for a more independent place to stay – like a BnB or an Airbnb – then your chances of getting online are also good.

Many of the people running these small guest houses are spending the money on their own personal wi-fi hotspots and internet boxes in order to give their tourist customers the best time that they can have, and get them good reviews online that will help them attract even more business.

However, not every spot can afford these, so you may want to ask before you buy.

You may be wondering whether CUba has internet cafes as well, allowing you to access the internet in public.

Internet cafes were more popular around the world when not as many people had their own private wi-fi or cell phone data, allowing people to sit down at a computer and pay to go online.

Despite more people having their own connection now, they do still exist. Unfortunately, though, this isn’t the case in Cuba, with very few internet cafes existing over the entire country. 

Where Do You Find Wi-Fi In Havana?

Where Do You Find Wi-Fi In Havana

Havana is the largest city in Cuba, as well as being its capital. For this reason, because it is so popular and has so many people, you might assume that connecting to wi-fi is a lot easier when visiting there – and you’d be right! Havana is more connected to the internet than any other part of Cuba.

Where to find these connection points is largely the same as we spoke about before: public gathering spots all over the city (parks, bars), hotels that you might be staying at, some BnB and Airbnb businesses might have private connections in the homes, and even some neighborhoods are trying to get everyone to get online as a group effort.

Wherever you go in Havana, you will likely be able to connect to the internet. And if you don’t? You will never be far away from the next connection spot, so just carry on walking!

Wi-Fi Cards

However, connecting to the wi-fi is not as simple as pressing a button and having free access. Many of the public places for wi-fi access in Cuba require you to have an “internet card” (known as a NAUTA card) in order to get online.

These cards act like wi-fi passwords, giving you a card with a password printed on it for you to enter when connecting. 

These often won’t be unlimited, unless stated as that, meaning that the card will also tell you how long your internet access will last for. We’ve all been in a store or a restaurant that allows you to connect to their wi-fi, but only for certain periods of time. 

With that being said, sometimes they are unlimited. You might find it’s the case if you’re staying at a hotel and they have internet cards, then they may offer you an unlimited one.

This makes sense, because you’re going to be at that hotel for a good amount of time, and won’t want to be cut off from the internet every half an hour.

However, some hotels may not even have internet cards at all, allowing you to get online without a password. 

How Do You Use Your Wi-Fi Card?

As we mentioned earlier, these wi-fi cards are known as Nauta cards. They are relatively simple to use once you have bought or acquired one, but we’re going to go into the specifics so that you don’t have any confusion when faced with one. 

When you open an internet browser, you will instead be directed to a website asking for your NAUTA code.

To find your NAUTA number code, turn over the card and you’ll see a scratch off part. Scratch it off with your nail, then enter the revealed code into the website.

Thankfully, you won’t be limited to that internet browser on that device, instead being able to access the internet on everything – your laptop, your phone, and so on. H

However, the NAUTA card also tells you how long it will last for. This could be anything from a short time to a few hours, but once the timer runs out then you will be kicked off the internet.

The only way to get around this is to go and buy or collect another NAUTA card, then enter that code, and repeat the process.

Where Can You Buy NAUTA Wi-Fi Cards?

There are a wide variety of different places where you can get your NAUTA wi-fi card, which is the reason that the internet is now so much more readily available over the country.

The cards are mainly sold by ETECSA, which is a company owned by the Cuban state – like a lot of businesses in Cuba.

However, you might also be able to buy them from regular people, in much the same way that somebody might resell a ticket to a concert – people buy lots of NAUTA cards and sell them off, keeping the demand and the price high. 

ETECSA Stores

Most obviously, you can get a NAUTA card directly from the ETECSA stores around Cuba.

There are lots of these around the country, especially in the capital city of Havana, where the internet is very widely available from public hotspots.

However, due to the popularity there may be long queues running out of the stores, and you may have to wait a while. On top of that, they could always run out of stock when you do get to the front of the line.

Jim Stanton
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